Archive for the ‘Sermons’ category

The Cross Interprets Man

December 22, 2012

In “The Surety’s Cross,” Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) preaches that the Cross is “the divine proclamation and interpretation of the things of God.” The sermon, based on Galatians 6:14, is built on six “heads,” or major points. Each “head” is Bonar’s exposition on the Cross’ interpretation of six things of God – Man, God Himself, the Law, Sin, the Gospel, and Service.

Heading I of the sermon is: “The cross is the interpreter of MAN.” Under this “head” Bonar writes that the Cross reveals two things about man.

The first thing that it reveals is that man is a hater of God.

“In the cross man has spoken out.”

“Reckoning the death of the cross the worst of all deaths – man deems it the fittest for the Son of God. Thus, the enmity of the natural heart speaks out, and man not only confesses publicly that he is a hater of God – but he takes pains to show the intensity of his hatred.”

“It is yon cross which judges you…. Man hating God – and hating most, when God is loving most!”

“But how am I to sever myself from these crucifiers, and protest against their crime? By believing in the name of the crucified One! For all unbelief is approval of the deed and identification with the murderers. Faith is man’s protest against the deed; and identification of himself, not only with the friends and disciples of the crucified One – but with the crucified One himself.”

“The cross, then, was the public declaration of man’s hatred of God, man’s rejection of his Son, and man’s avowal of his belief that he needs no Savior. If anyone, then, denies the ungodliness of humanity, and pleads for the native goodness of the race, I ask, what means yon cross?”

The Cross not only reveals the “depravity of man,” it exhibits the foolishness of man.

“And as his erection of the cross was the revelation of his folly, so has been his subsequent estimate of it, and of the gospel which has issued from it. He sees in it no wisdom – but only foolishness; and this ascription of foolishness to the cross is but the more decided proof of his own foolishness.”

Bonar concludes the first “head” of his message with these questions:

“My friend, what is that cross to you? Is it folly or wisdom? Do you see, in the way of salvation which it reveals, the excellency of wisdom, as well as the excellency of power and love? Has the cross, interpreted to you by the Holy Spirit, revealed your own heart as a hell of darkness and evil? Have you accepted its exposition of your character, and welcomed it also as salvation for the lost – reconciliation between you and God?

What is the Cross to you?  Foolishness or the wisdom of God? Have you come to the Christ of the Cross for the forgiveness of your sin and the promise of eternal life?

“What Means Yon Cross?” An Introduction to Horatius Bonar’s Sermon, “The Surety’s Cross”

December 19, 2012

In “The Surety’s Cross,” Horatius Bonar, a 19th Century Scottish preacher and hymn writer, preaches on the Cross of Christ. The sermon, preached in 1867, is based on Galatians 6:14. In the verse, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:

“But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world was crucified to me, and I to the world.”

As Bonar begins his message, he writes that, “The death of the cross has always been, above every other, reckoned the death of shame.” He says that the LORD as allowed this conception of the Cross to …

” … root itself universally, in order that there might be provided a place of shame, lower than all others, for the great substitute who, in the fullness of time was to take the sinner’s place, and be himself the great outcast from man and God, despised and rejected, deemed unworthy even to die within the gates of the holy city.”

Despite the fact that the Cross is, to men, a place of  “curse and shame,”  it is the “strength and honor and life and blessing” of God. Paul will say elsewhere that the “word of the Cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:18)

Of the Cross, Bonar says that the secret of its power …

” … lies in the amount of divine truth which it embodies. It is the summary of all the Bible; the epitome of Revelation. It is pre-eminently the voice of God; and as such, conveying the power as well as uttering his wisdom. ‘The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.'”

In the body of the sermon, Bonar looks at the Cross as “the divine proclamation and interpretation of the things of God; the key to his character, his word, his ways, his purposes; the clue to the intricacies of the world’s and the Church’s history.”

Horatius Bonar will tell us that the Cross is the Interpreter of Man, God, Law, Sin, Gospel, and Service.  Oh, the wonder of the Cross!

Over the course of the next several posts, I will share quotes from each of the “heads,” or major points, of Bonar’s sermon. I will also include personal thoughts and comments on each “head.”

It is my desire, that as we give prayerful consideration to the Lord’s use of the Cross as the Interpreter of man and all things spiritual, that will we be drawn closer in faith to the Christ of the Cross.

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You can read “The Surety’s Cross” in its entirety here.

I would note that I have been reading and posting on Robert Traill’s thirteen-sermon series, “The Throne of Grace”. I am interrupting that series of posts with this short series on Bonar’s, “The Surety’s Cross”. I will resume the Traill series shortly.

A New Court Erected

November 9, 2012

What is there to know, and how much can be known, about the throne of grace?

Robert Traill, Scot preacher and reformer (1642-1716), helps us explore these questions in his thirteen-sermon series, The Throne of Grace. These messages were published in the book, A Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of Faith, in 1718, two years after Traill’sthroneo;p death.

The messages in this series are based on Hebrews 4:16.

“Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”

In the introduction to Sermon I, Traill informs us that he is going to address “four weighty questions, which should be in the hearts of all worshippers of God.” These questions are: “Where may I find God?”; “How should we come to God on this throne?”; “What ground hath a sinner for this boldness?”; and “What shall we get, and for what may we come to this throne of grace?”

Under the first “Head,” “Where is God to be found?”, Traill writes that God is found on the throne of grace.  He preaches that the mostArk of the Covenant3 sacred object in Old Testament worship, the mercy seat, is what the writer of Hebrews calls the “throne of grace.” This teaches us that

” …whatever of divine grace was revealed and tendered to, or perceived and received by the faith of the Old Testament  believers, in their right use of these sacred old institutions of God to his church, the same, with great advantage, believers under the New Testament have in Jesus Christ, the body, the antitype, and substance of them.”

Three advantages had at the mercy seat, and in Christ, are noted by Traill.  They are a solemn approach made to God, atonement for sins, and a Word from God.

Traill then distinguishes the throne of grace from other “thrones” found in Scripture. The other thrones are:

  • the throne of glory, a throne of the essential, incomprehensible glory of God that no man can approach (I Timothy 6:16)
  • the throne of government where “God sits, and rules all things in his pleasure, and in infinite wisdom.” (Psalm 9:4,7)
  • the throne of God’s justice from where men will be judged according to the law and their works (Psalm 143:2), from which “nothing but condemnation can justly be pronounced on sinners.”

And, then there is the throne of grace, the central subject of this sermon series. The preacher defines this throne as

“… God in Christ dealing with men according to the grace of the gospel. It is God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their trespasses (2 Cor.5:19). It is Christ set forth by God to be a propitiation (Rom. 3:25). This is the new court or throne erected by God, and declared in the gospel, to which sinful man is invited to come.”

In I Corinthians 1:18, the Apostle Paul says that the word of this Cross is to those who are perishing, foolishness. But to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Robert Traill then asks and answers the question, “Why is it called a throne and a throne of grace?”

He answers this in four parts.

“1. It is called a throne, because of the glory and majesty of God manifested there.”

“The Lord on this throne of grace, dispenseth all acts of grace with great majesty, and a king; but not as a King Judge, and Ruler, but as a King Benefactor, and Giver. This royalty of grace shines, i. In the greatness of the gifts, grace, and mercy; vastly above all that the creation can give.”

ii. In the manner of giving; free, sovereignly free. Grace and mercy is his own, and he doth with them as he will.”

“Approaches to God on the throne of grace, should be made with the deepest reverence and humility.”

“O that captives to Satan, and slaves to sin and the law, would long to be under the reign of this stately power, the grace of God! and that believers themselves would give themselves a more free and large subjection to it”

 “2. It is called a throne of grace, 1st, Because grace entered and reared it up.”

“Till men get a sight of God in Christ, they cannot tell what the grace of God is. Search heaven and earth, you can never get a view of God’s grace, till ye come to this throne. You may see God’s infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness, written in great characters, in the great volume  of creation and providence; but till ye come to know God in Christ on this throne, you can never see that divine dainty, and saving blessing, the free grace of God; grace, as an everlasting fountain in the heart of God, pouring down, streaming forth eternal salvation on ruined unworthy sinners.”

“3dly, It is called a throne of grace, because all the acts and sentences passed at this new court, are all acts of grace. All the blessings given from this throne, are all mere grace. Nothing is here but grace (John 1:17).”

“We are chosen by grace; we are given to Christ by grace; redeemed by him by grace; by grace we are justified through that redemption; by the same grace we are adopted; by the same grace we are saved, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and by grace we shall be glorified.”

 “4thly, It is called a throne of grace, because the glory of grace is the last and highest end of the building of this throne, and of all the acts of grace dispensed at it, and from it.”

“We read in the word of none of the counsels of God before the creation of all things, but of his purpose of saving a company of poor sinful men by Jesus Christ; and of no other design in this purpose, but to magnify his grace in saving of them this way. So much of the significance of this word, a throne of grace.”

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Thus far in the first half of Robert Traill’s first sermon on the Throne of Grace, he has shown us that the throne of grace in the New Testament is the mercy seat of the Old Testament. Traill defines the throne of grace and then explains, in rich and reverent tones, why it is the throne of God’s grace.  It is to this throne that we must go for mercy and grace to help in time of our every need.

In the second half of this first sermon, Traill will address the question, “What is it to come unto this throne of grace?” This will be the subject of my second post on Sermon1 on the Throne of Grace.

Grace Is The Theme

October 27, 2012

In Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith (1718), we find a tremendous collection of sermons preached by Robert Traill (1642-1716), a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and reformer. Among the many sermons included in this volume are thirteen preached on Hebrews 4:16. These sermons from Hebrews are simply entitled Thirteen Sermons on the Throne of Grace.

Traill wrote the preface to Stedfast Adherence. In it are words that reveal the spiritual character and heart of this great preacher. They are as stirring and motivating as any found in the sermons themselves.

“I know of no true religion but Christianity; no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ; of his divine person, (the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15); of his divine office, (the Mediator betwixt God and men, I Timothy 2:5); of his divine righteousness, (he is the Lord our Righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6; which name is also called upon his church, chapter 33:16); and of his divine Spirit, (which all that are his receive, Romans 8:9). I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in his saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.”

When speaking of the theme of the messages from Hebrews 4:16, Traill states that it  …

“… is concerning the throne of God’s saving grace, reared up in Christ, and revealed  unto men in the gospel; with the application all should make to that throne, the great blessings to be reaped by that application, and men’s great need of those blessings.”

As Traill concludes the preface to Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith, he prays this prayer for the readers of his messages,

“May the Lord of the harvest, who ministered this seed to the sower, make it bread to the eater, and accompany it with his blessing on some that are called to inherit a blessing, and I have my end and desire; the reader shall have the benefit; and the Lord the glory; for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

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I would invite you join me as I post through Robert Traill’s Thirteen Sermons on The Throne of God. I believe the Lord will use them to feed and enrich our souls and draw us closer to Him in fellowship and worship.

You can find the Throne of Grace messages here.

Approaching The Throne of Grace

October 26, 2012

Robert Traill was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and reformer who lived from 1642 to 1716. Because of the religious and Robert Traill2  political persecution he was subject to from the Church of England because of his religious and church beliefs, Traill fled to Holland in 1667 and then to London in 1670. He returned to Scotland for a short period of time, was arrested, and spent several months in Bass Prison. After his release he returned to London where he pastored a Scottish congregation until his death in 1716.

I became familiar with Traill in 2009 when I read, studied, and posted on his six- sermon series on Galatians 2:21. That series, preached around 1692 and later published as The True Gospel Preached: Six Sermons on Galatians 2:21, “set forth the Gospel of God’s Free and Sovereign Grace in Jesus Christ to unworthy sinners who are so foolishly inclined to set about the seeking of their reconciliation with God by the Law and their own righteousness.” (True Covenanter)

The Lord blessed me tremendously as I read and studied the messages delivered by one who lived so long ago. What struck me about those sermons is how God-exalting, Christ-centered, and grace-saturated Traill’s messages are.

You can read my posts on Traill’s Galatians 2:21 sermons here. In the posts you will find links to the sermons so that you can read them, too.

Traill preached a number of sermon series based on only one or two verses of Scripture. He preached a sixteen-sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, a three-sermon series on Matthew 7:13, 14 on entering at the straight gate, and a thirteen-sermon series on one verse from the Book of Hebrews.

The Hebrews series is entitled The Throne of Grace and is based on Hebrews 4:16. In this passage of Scripture, we receive an exhortation.

“Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”

The Hebrew’s sermons were included in a book of Traill’s sermons that was published in 1718. The book is entitled A Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of our Faith.

It is my intention to read, study, and post through the thirteen sermons on Hebrews 4:16 that Robert Traill preached three hundred years ago. Just as his messages from Galatians 2:21 touched my heart, I expect the Lord to use Traill’s messages to help me better understand the throne of God’s grace and the privilege that is mine to draw near to God on His throne because of Who Jesus is and what He has done in my life.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will use this passage of Scripture and these messages to stir within me a greater commitment to loving, serving, and worshipping the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

My Name Etched

October 23, 2012

I used to joke with my wife that I could find the first name of each of our children – Hannah, Rachel, Nathan, and Noah, and mine as well, David – in the Bible, but I could not find either her first or middle names there.

Her reply always was, “That’s okay, as I long as I know that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Regena Jane has a confidence about her salvation and eternal destiny. It is not based on her name or her good looks. It’s not based on anything that she has done or ever will do. And, there is nothing she will ever do that will ever cause her to lose it. Her confidence, and that of all Christians, for salvation and eternal life is simply in the finished, effectual, sure work of God in Christ on the Cross of Calvary.

In a sermon entitled The Immutability of Christ, John Ross MacDuff reminds us that our assurance of salvation, our confidence for daily living, and our confident expectation for tomorrow is found in the Immutable Christ.

Below is one quote from the sermon.

“‘I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Not on the mountains, colossal as they are, for they shall depart; on no leaf of nature’s vast volume, for the last fires shall scorch them; not on blazing sun, for he shall grow dim with age; or on glorious heavens, for they shall be folded together as a scroll. But on the hand which made the worlds, the hand which was transfixed on Calvary, the hand of might and love–I have engraved you there. No corroding power can efface the writing, obliterate the name–you are Mine now, and Mine forever!'”

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John Ross MacDuff (1818-1895) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and writer. He also wrote poetry and was known for his devotional writings.

The above quote is taken from the sermon The Immutability of Christ. It is based on Hebrews 18:8 –

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”

The sermon can be read in its entirety here.

Substance and Evidence

July 25, 2011

In Night of Weeping and Morning of Joy, Horatius Bonar, 19th Century Scottish pastor and hymn writer, wrote of faith and those who live by faith.

“Their faith is to them ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ It is a sort of substitute for sight and possession. It so brings them into contact with the unseen world that they feel as if they were already conversant with, and living among, the things unseen. It makes the future, the distant, the impalpable, appear as the present, the near, the real. It removes all intervening time; it annihilates all interposing space; it transplants the soul at once into the world above. That which we know is to be hereafter is felt as if already in being.”

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Of the grace-gift of faith, Scripture says:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the convictions of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

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You can read “The Family Life,” the chapter from which the above quote is taken, here.

You can purchase Night of Weeping and Morning of Joy at Monergism Books or WTS Books.